If you’re feeling grumpy this year and irritated by relatives, here are some stories that may make you appreciate them more…
Frozen, a Disney movie that I previewed in order to see if there was anything in there that would upset my 4-year-old. It turned out to be too upsetting for me (85% dead) and my companion (26). A little girl loses both of her parents in a shipwreck and then her older sister won’t talk to her for years. I would be interested to hear from parents who have taken children to this movie. How old is old enough?
Wave, a book by a woman who loses both parents, her husband, and both of her children while vacationing in her native Sri Lanka during the 2004 tsunami. She gets angry and crazy at the same time, her life duct-taped together by the constant companionship of extended family.
“Where is Your Mother?” a New Yorker story by Rachel Aviv that is sadly behind a paywall. Niveen Ismail, who grew up in Kuwait with Egyptian parents, comes to Orange County without the support of friends or family and makes one bad decision after another. She becomes a single mother, which in California can be a lucrative occupation if the father is chosen correctly (see https://www.cse.ca.gov/ChildSupport/cse/guidelineCalculator and plug in the salary for a plastic surgeon. for example), but her profit from child support in this particular case was apparently not sufficient to pay for full-time day care. One day in 2005 Ismail snaps and leaves her three-year-old son home alone. The police arrive 90 minutes later and take the kid away, but instead of saying “You’re a bad mother and we’re putting your child into foster care” (an immediate tsunami-like loss) they subject Ismail to nearly three years of legal and psychological torture where she (unsuccessfully) tries to demonstrate her competence as a parent to a variety of social workers and psychologists.